October 3, 1971

Sean O Riada, founder, composer and arranger for the Chieftains died on this day in 1971. Born John Reidy in Cork on August 1, 1931, he knew how to play the violin, piano and organ as a child. He attended University College Cork and became an assistant director for Radio Eireann. In 1955, O Riada left his job, wife and family and moved to Italy and later France in favor of a more bohemian lifestyle. He returned to Ireland after composing scores for several Irish language films. Between 1961 and 1969, he was the leader of a group called Ceoltoiri Chualann, which he later overlapped with The Chieftains. O Riada was the composer behind the hit song, Mna na hEireann (Women of Ireland.)

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